Research Papers

Perspective on the Mechanical Interaction Between Lithium Dendrites and Polymer Separators at Low Temperature

[+] Author and Article Information
Corey T. Love

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory,
Chemistry Division,
4555 Overlook Avenue, SW,
Washington, DC 20375
e-mail: corey.love@nrl.navy.mil

Manuscript received May 16, 2016; final manuscript received August 5, 2016; published online October 20, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Partha Mukherjee.This material is declared a work of the U.S. Government and is not subject to copyright protection in the United States. Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.

J. Electrochem. En. Conv. Stor. 13(3), 031004 (Oct 20, 2016) (5 pages) Paper No: JEECS-16-1067; doi: 10.1115/1.4034483 History: Received May 16, 2016; Revised August 05, 2016

This perspective paper underscores the importance of coupled electro-mechanical studies in lithium battery systems with a specific example given of the interaction between temperature-dependent dendrite morphologies and polymer separators. Polymer separators are passive components in lithium battery systems yet play a critical role in cell safety. Separators must maintain dimensional stability to provide electronic isolation of the active electrodes and resist puncture and penetration from lithium dendrites. The polyolefin class of polymers has been used extensively for this application with mixed success. Recent research efforts to characterize lithium dendrite formation and growth have shown distinct temperature-dependent dendrite morphologies: rounded blunt mushroom-shaped, sharp jagged needle-like, and granular particulates. Each of these dendrite morphologies will induce a difference physical interaction with the polymer separator. Anticipating this interaction is difficult since the mechanical properties of the polymer separator itself are largely temperature dependent. This paper describes the anticipated physical interaction of the three different dendrite morphologies listed above as a function of temperature and the local physical properties of the commercial polymer separator. A discussion is also provided on the utility of estimating local mechanical properties in the electrochemical battery environment from traditional mechanical and thermomechanical measurements made in the laboratory.

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Fig. 1

Morphology changes of lithium dendrites formed at (a) 20 °C, (b) 5 °C, and (c) −10 °C. Arrows highlight the distinct morphologies (mushroom, balloon-shaped at −10 °C; jagged, needle-like at 5 °C; and granular, microparticulates at 20 °C). (d) Schematic interaction of temperature-dependent dendrite morphologies and polymer separators at local mechanical properties.

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Fig. 2

Representative tensile stress–strain curves for polypropylene separator Celgard 2400 and polyethylene separator Entek Gold LP at −10 °C, 5 °C, and 20 °C

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Fig. 3

Elastic modulus determined from static temperature tensile testing for separator materials at −10 °C, 5 °C, and 20 °C

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Fig. 4

Measured (a) storage modulus, (b) loss modulus, and (c) tan δ for polymer separators with temperature. Insets are given in (a) to highlight areas of interest and (b) to show the ductile-to-brittle transition temperature for polypropylene.



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